Industrial Robotic Massage | Zack Jacobson-Weaver and Madeline Gannon

The project to date is in mainly in hardware development but since combining our efforts have identified the  key domain which simply stated is human/robot touch.  The first video illustrates one routine the robot could perform for our final demo.


Hardware development has focused almost exclusively on contact itself and a ‘tool’ is being developed to use simple force sensors to trigger one of a number of potential ‘back rub’ routines.  The prototype tool which is illustrated in the second video will use these sensors to define the robot arm’s position relative to a seated person.

Mechanical Interface between Robot and User



Mechanical Interface between Robot and User


Among the interesting intellectual spaces we have identified we are focusing on the following:

  • Human/Robot physical interaction remains largely uncharted and is considered among the most relevant issues in robotics.
  • Studies have indicated that sentient decision making on the part of robots causes greater alarm in humans than when humans are informed of eminent robot contact.
  • Industrial robots are generally regarded as machines that remain external to human interaction.
  • While so-called “social” robots are designed explicitly to engage in human interaction, the major difference from “industrial” robots appears to be sensing technology (hardware and/or software).
  • Mental models of immediate conditions are one approach to ensuring safety.


We are currently iterating through a series of surface types, trying to find the ideal tactile interface between the seated person and robot arm: